Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blind man held in custody, dragged off plane

Nicola Cantisani, a blind interpreter en route from Philadelphia to Belgium, was arrested, dragged off of a US Airways plane and accused of faking blindness after he stood up and questioned how long the plane was on the tarmac on April 4.

The arresting officers didn't let him grab his cane, but rather accused him of faking blindness, then characterized his problems leaving the plane as "resisting." He was imprisoned overnight without being told of his charges, read his rights, or given access to counsel -- and he injured himself while there because he didn't have his cane. via BoingBoing

Police later said the blind passenger flunked a "blind test". The passenger's cane was lost in a scuffle with the police and he did not have it with him in prison, resulting in an injury.

After the plane sat on the tarmac for some time, passengers were told that the flight would be delayed - without explanation, according to Cantisani. They were unable to use phones, receive attendant service or move from their seats.

Cantisani claimed he was held in police custody at the airport from about 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. without food, water or access to his phone or outside communication. via

He was then taken to the 18th Police District, where he was kept until late the next evening, he says.

"I was never read my rights. I was put against the wall, told to put [my] hands on the wall, empty [my] pockets and undo my shoelaces," Cantisani said. "Then, I was shoved into a 6-by-7-foot cell and that was it."

Cantisani said that without his cane to help him navigate, he bumped his head, causing it to bleed.

Cantisani said no one believed he was blind until the end of his stay. via


Full Tilt said...

I hope Mr. Cantisani recuperates from his injuries and hires an attorney who will deal with these jerks in such a way that the airlines and law enforcement will be required to undergo some sort of training, anger management, disability awareness and part with a nice settlement so that they don't ever forget their "mistake."

I become livid when I see this stuff!!!!

Katja said...

One the other hand, it's frankly a relief to see that this wasn't a story about someone who was removed from a plane because he was blind. If he was in fact disruptive, it may (I say "may", because as is always the case with news reports, it's impossible to tell what really happened) have been appropriate to remove him. Obviously it was not appropriate to separate him from his cane.